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New York University

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Cynthia McCallister is Associate Professor of Literacy Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at New York University. Cynthia's  field-based scholarship has focused on the development of social-constructivist approaches to learning.   

Work in Schools

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Cynthia has worked extensively as a classroom teacher, staff developer, and school development consultant in elementary, middle, and high schools in New York City and rural Maine. She works in schools to help learners, teachers and school leaders learn the educational methods she has developed.

Learning Cultures

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Cynthia is the developer of Learning Cultures® , a social-constructivist approach to education that has been successfully implemented in more than a dozen New York City public schools with dramatic gains in achievement in math and reading at the elementary and middle school levels and graduation rates at the high school level.

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Cooperative Unison Reading: Socially Inclusive Group Instruction for Equity and Achievement

Here's what people are saying about Cynthia McCallister's Cooperative Unison Reading...


"This book offers the promise of an effective approach to reading instruction based on sound theory and substantial research. It is a powerful antidote to the hyper-focus on low level reading skills." Curt Dudley-Marling, Professor, Boston College


“Cynthia McCallister reminds us to stop labeling children and to begin listening to them and learning from them. Above all, the author highlights the importance of camaraderie, respect and support as children learn to read in the company of their peers.”  Shelley Harwayne, Author and Educational Consultant


"As the principal who collaborated with McCallister to pilot the implementation of Unison Reading on a PK-8 schoolwide basis, I have witnessed firsthand its true power to dramatically raise reading achievement. Growth of students in all grades outpaced the national norm, and our lowest performing students′ achievement rates have been even more dramatic. Unison Reading, if brought to a larger scale, can close the achievement gap.” Kerry Rutishauser, Principal, Jacob Riis School, NY, NY


“Cynthia McCallister’s Unison Reading boldly proposes and shows how to achieve a deep change of theory and practice in the acquisition and development of reading. It promises to live up to its subtitle and build socially inclusive classrooms producing equity and achievement. And, most exciting of all, this uncommon sense approach will banish boredom and bring joy and excitement back to the reading class." John S. Mayher, New York University Professor Emeritus


“Unison Reading enables educators to deliver the kind of attention to individual performance that is normally only attained through one-on-one instruction. As a science education researcher I′ve used Unison Reading to hear students co-construct and talk about scientific words, claims, and evidence and found it to be a powerful tool to design transformative instruction.” Susan Kirch, New York University Associate Professor, Science Education


“McCallister and her colleagues in schools have spawned an enormously generative idea that creates a lively and inclusive learning environment. This approach provides a remarkable opportunity for teachers who want a very rich context for observing students′ comprehension and interests." Susan Lytle, Professor of Education, University of Pennsylvania


“McCallister has developed one of the most exciting and important educational innovations I have ever seen. In an era where schools are forced into a Faustian choice between time spent on academic skills and time spent on social, moral, and character development, along comes this theoretical and practical breath of fresh air, which elegantly does it all at the same time. This book should be read by anyone interested in improving education.” Joshua Aronson, Associate Professor and Editor of Improving Academic Achievement: Impact of Psychological Factors on Education


“Thank you, Cynthia McCallister, for this remarkable contribution to practices of collaborative learning. The concept of Unison Reading reminds us that learning is fundamentally a social process. Most helpfully, we are introduced to the fine details of how this process can increase motivation, attention, mutually supportive relationships, and reading mastery. I am very impressed, and we should all be grateful.” Kenneth J. Gergen, Senior Research Professor and Author


"This could be the most innovative approach to reading instruction I′ve come across in the last 20 years. It has the potential to transform classroom practice, enabling students to meet the highest quality standards of reading instruction. A must-read."  Susan B. Neuman, New York University Professor and former Assistant Secretary of Education 

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An Overview of the Learning Cultures Education Model, by Cynthia McCallister